Agent reference number required on claim formsby
Tax agents will soon have to provide additional information if they're receiving repayments on their client's behalf as HMRC tightens the controls against rogue tax repayment agents submitting bogus claims.
From 26 February 2024, paid tax agents submitting form P87 for tax relief on employment expenses and/or MATCF for marriage allowance claims on behalf of clients will need to provide their agent reference number (ARN) when submitting the forms if they wish to receive payment on the taxpayer's behalf.
I recently wrote a column in which I expressed concern over the rising number of taxpayers duped by crooked tax repayment agents into submitting bogus claims.
By the time HMRC picks up on the error and demands repayment of the repayment(!) the agent cannot be seen for dust and the taxpayer is left with a bill which, including interest, sometimes penalties and the agent's fee, is often higher than the amount they originally received.
The issue often occurs when a vulnerable, naïve, or perhaps just optimistic taxpayer is approached by a less-than-scrupulous individual or outfit, claiming to be an expert in tax avoidance. The taxpayer is persuaded to submit a claim, often amending a return that has been correctly submitted, to take advantage of a tax relief to which they are not entitled.
The status quo for many tax repayment agents is to request authority to receive the repayment for successful claims on behalf of the taxpayer, agreeing to transfer over the funds after deducting their fee. The risk here of course is that, as in the recent case of the nefarious Joseph Logue, repayment claims can be made on behalf of the taxpayer, and the spoils siphoned to the agent, all without the taxpayer's knowledge.
HMRC has announced measures designed to address this risk, protect customers and increase transparency and accountability of tax repayment agents.
One such measure is the requirement for all tax repayment agents who receive a fee to submit income tax or PAYE repayments on behalf of others to be registered with HMRC via an agent services account (ASA). Agents were given three months from 2 May 2023 to complete the registration process, with the requirement effective from 2 August 2023.
By registering, agents are expected to comply with the tax authority's standard for agents, which was updated on 1 September 2023 to include new transparency requirements.
Any repayment claims must include the registered agent's details including the ARN in the nomination section of the claim form in order for the agent to receive the repayment.
Paper forms updated
HMRC has since announced that new versions of the paper form P87 for employment expense claims and the marriage allowance print and post form MATCF will be available for claims made on or after 26 February 2024. The new forms will include a nomination section, where details of the agent nominated by the taxpayer to receive the refund must be given. These include:
- The reference number (ARN) assigned to the agent after creating an ASA
- The agent's name and address, which must match details in the ASA
HMRC has made it clear that forms received after 26 February 2024 that do not include these details will either not be processed, or any repayment will be sent directly to the taxpayer.
Similar paper forms for claiming tax repayments in other areas of tax, such as form R40 for reclaiming overpaid tax on savings and investments including PPI payouts, will be released in due course.
HMRC has also reminded customers that they can submit repayment claims without using an agent, using the Check how to claim a tax refund tool.
It will be interesting to see the response to these measures from the honest, hardworking folk that make up the majority of the tax agent population. AccountingWEB reader jonjenkins commented on my previous piece that the tightening up of regulations constitutes "more legislation that will hurt the most for sake of TRYING (never succeeding) to stop a few rogues".
An HMRC spokesperson said: “We encourage all repayment agents to register with HMRC as soon as possible, if they haven't already. Failing to register by the deadline will mean they are unable to receive certain repayments on behalf of their clients.”
Details of who needs to register are available at Receive Income Tax or PAYE repayments on behalf of others on GOV.UK.
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Consulting Tax Editor for AccountingWEB.
I have spent the last 10 years teaching the accountants of the future, mainly ICAEW advanced level corporate reporting. I also cover tax news and write and edit tax updates for other publishers including PTP Limited.